Cattle ranchers and industry stakeholders from across North Dakota filled Room 327C and the lined the hallways of the state capitol building Friday. That’s because the House Agriculture Committee took over 65 written statements and heard nearly three hours of in-person testimony from ranchers, agricultural groups and others in the state. House Bill 1487 would change one word with how state Beef Checkoff dollars are collected in North Dakota, turning the word ‘must’ to ‘may’ and therefore making it voluntary. Mandan rancher Dwight Keller spoke in favor of the bill. “Is the checkoff really working for us? No, it’s not,” said Keller. “The dollars are funneled through the Federation of State Beef Councils, an arm of NCBA, where we lose total control. We should be able to advertise our own product.” Jacy Hauge, an upcoming young rancher from Carson, opposed the legislation because it seems to be an issue between organizations of the industry. “This is a deeper issue and shows how divided we are as beef producers within our state”s industry,” stated Hauge. “I believe in the importance of the Beef Checkoff. Without it, who is going to pick up the slack of promoting our product to consumers?” Video of the full hearing is available here. Listen to the full story.